We’re happy to announce the finalists for our 2020 Spokane Prize, judged by Valerie Martin.

  • Waiting for Mr. Kim and Other Stories, by Carol Spaulding
  • The Last Innocent Year, by Kerry Jones
  • Hanoi Rocks Will Live Forever, by Daniel Hoyt
  • Motherborn, by Tori Malcangio
  • The Existence of the Opposite, by Robert Shuster
  • Grown Women, by Toni Martin
  • Standing Deadwood, by Thomas M. Atkinson

And our winner,

  • Sustainable Living, by Elsa Nekola

In Sustainable Living, the backwoods and small towns of the upper Midwest are places not to run from, but to return, to seek refuge, and to discover unsettling truths.

In “Meat Raffle,” a woman returns to the carp fishing village where she grew up, only to discover that her widowed mother has found happiness with a decades-younger man. In the aftermath of trauma, “Oktoberfest” finds a teenage girl caught between domestic duties and the pull of the natural world. In “White Birch Winter,” an aimless woman becomes a caretaker for her mother’s elderly ex-husband, an artistic recluse who is resistant to her efforts.

The women in these stories are tied to the land they inhabit, coming-of-age on rivers and lakes, among hunters and fishermen, dependent on tourist economies to make a living. Their desires are stifled by harsh climates, poverty, and difficult family relationships; what unites these characters is their quest to sustain themselves and a longing for connection—sometimes found in unexpected people and places.

Elsa Nekola is a writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. Her short fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Nimrod International Journal, Witness, The Cincinnati Review’s miCRo series, Passages North, and other journals. She received her MFA from the University of Mississippi in 2018. Sustainable Living is her first book.

Find her at https://www.elsanekola.com/